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tv   Discussion-- United the States  CSPAN  January 6, 2014 6:45am-7:51am EST

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>> i put all of these ideas, and you don't -- yet write a 30 page proposal. 10,000 word essay on why i want to write it this way. the first was simply i should write a hymn to this country. a story in some detail why i had fallen in love with it, in a dramatic way. that wasn't ever a good idea it all. and then, because i love railway
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trains, i realized it's impossible to across the entire united states on last 30 freight railways. you can go all the way from maine to a little town in far northern california. i have a ready-made title for the book which was the 5:45 to paradise. the reason for that was back in the late '70s or early 80s on my second -- i had the looking up, i think at the time the so-called paris, texas, appeared and i was looking up where paris, texas, was and i noticed this was a place full of towns that begin with pa. 18 towns all called paradise. 18 cities, little villages in america called paradise.
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why were they called paradise and what they still paradise? i rang an editor in london. i said cannot possibly go and visit all the towns called erdos? no problem at all. the kind of assignment you would never get today. so i set off anniversary was paradise of florida which was retirement community, more as a gateway than paradise i believe. then there was paradise pennsylvania which is just down the road from intercourse pennsylvania which excites everybody. there was paradise arkansas and paradise montana. all have been ruined in one way or another by by american sociy except for one which was in northwestern kansas. and, therefore, knew the geographical center of the continental u.s. i went there and what turned out to be my routine, i went to the
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post office and there was the postmaster. i said i'm putting a piece of all the towns called paradise. she said, here, a little town about 250, you've got to stay with the patriarchs, in the village, they are called believe it or not john and mary angel. so i stayed with the angels of paradise and mary angel, rising to the occasion on wings, went to the bottom of the garden and picked cherries and baked me a cherry pie. quite honestly, if anything meals my love for this country, it's eating cherry pie make eye the angels and paradise. [laughter] as it happened there was can use to be a union pacific train would leave in the morning from paradise and come back at about
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4:30 p.m. with the housewives have been shopping, they would get back to the farm in time to cook dinner for their husbands. that was trained number of 545. so the title was 545 to paradise. i was stumped and i had to write another proposal. this was even more sort of lunatic and juvenile. there's a series of books very successful in britain, the anatomy of britain. i thought, why didn't i write the anatomy of america, the basic on the structure of "grey's anatomy." not the television program about the book which is i think published first in 1856. i got an old copy and yes, it was organized with a brain and the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. i thought this could work. the universities, the brain.
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the commission system are the nerves. the highways are the arteries. the skeleton is all the bridgework and the skin. they didn't like that idea either. so i was really stomped until one day a couple of years ago i was thinking of got to write a book about this country. the united states of america, the word united. how come america managed to keep itself except of course of those miserably as in 1860s, keep itself united? no other large entity on the planet has managed to keep itself united in any truly coherent way. russia is possibly an example since the soviet union has dissolved into a dozen little states. canada, wonderful though it is, ma we all love candidate, there is a this great big chunk in the middle of the which -- i'm
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afraid as to get close to begin meeting border this will get, the audiences will get more restless so i think i will telnet get down. [laughter] than their share of where i come from. we tried desperately ever since the end of the second world war to unify europe. manifested not solely under in -- not fully. they all speak different like which. they glare at each other. so that hasn't achieved unity, but this place which is a mongrel nation full of every color and creed and persuasion, and race, linguistic background. you can imagine all crammed into the country, and yet and i'll go to an indian person living in maine and a jewish person in new york, latina star hold in
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albuquerque, fishermen and organ. some sort of fiscal concord, they are all american. how did this happen? it's possible to say that abstract things like language, common language, or believe in democracy or human rights or something like that has held its unity, but my thought was that actually the physical agencies of demand with a real tease. it's easy enough if you're all the same, all norwegian or behave in more or less the same manner. my wife is japanese. it's easy for japan to unite itself, but america, much more difficult. i came up with this idea that inventions and creations and ideas of physical union were actually what made this country
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into one. i sat down and made a list of all the people i could think of that it somehow helped weld this country into a nation and kept it. and this list got longer and longer. first of all with the family people like jefferson and lewis and clark and so forth. prevent a lot more very obscure people. i mentioned it to my wife one day and she said, so, you're creating a list of them in the united states? i said, my god, that is the title. i looked it up on amazon and all the various book catalogs i could find, no one has ever used this title. such an obvious title really. but just interesting a question from it's also the type that simply gets into a lot of trouble. i find a very good way to bring yourself down to earth or take yourself down a peg or do is to look at amazon's one star reviews. one star reviews where they say
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this is the most boring book i've ever read in my life. goes on and on. from a woman who says i am unabashed militant feminist and i am appalled, so appalled by the fact that the many united states, i'm not even going to pick it up and read. i got a one star review without even being read. [laughter] but her view is one that i anticipated, why is that all men? the fact is the reality is that in the physical uniting of america, it has been the basis almost entirely of been. there's only one woman who appears in this story, and that is sacajawea in the lewis and clark saga. otherwise i'm afraid to say women play lesser roles. we not have an important role in other aspects of america but not in the physical union of the nation. so i started a stoppage in this list. i think i got about 100 people
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in it, of which maybe 75 i had never heard of, but nonetheless i was convinced they played at very important part. and then you come to the tricky part, how do you organize it? i once taught at the university of chicago for semester and that they didn't at the university of california system, creating nonfiction writing. i've always thought there were three key elements to the writing of the book. nonfiction that his. one is the idea. the id is king. you have to have a terrific idea to write a book. the writing has to be good. but it's not the second most important thing. the second most important thing is the structure of the book. you can write about a wonderful idea but if the structure is all over the map you are going to lose people's attention. so how do you look at, let's take a 100 people who played such an important role in the
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story of uniting america, how do you organize it in a way that will make it readable? you could organize it alphabetically. that would simply be an encyclopedic book. it wouldn't be at all interesting but you could organize them chronologically but i would argue if you look at it closely, similarly it just doesn't work. so i was puzzled for two or three weeks, and then one day i was writing a letter to a friend of mine in shanghai. i mentioned i lived in china for quite a long while. i suddenly remembered nearly all eastern philosophical systems, there are what are called the classical elements which underpins almost all aspects of life. everywhere from india where, in fact, there are only four of these classical elements, once you get into china, indochina, korea and japan, nearly all of them have variation, but
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essentially five classical elements underpin every aspect of their lives. those five elements are wood, earth, water, fire, and metal. and i thought it might work that i could corral all these people and their achievements into these headings, under the headings of the five classical elements. so i started first of all trying it out. i thought, how about would? think of lewis and clark. think of jefferson, thomas jefferson sitting on the terrace in monticelmonticel lo. if you go to monticello, i'm sure many of you have and you look at those gardens, they are dominated by trees that he planted. he regarded them as crops. he loved sitting under them looking at them. he loves the simple majesty of them. i'm sure you know the story, he was sitting on his terrace with
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his secretary reading the book, this was i think late 1802, which had just been sent to him from london written by a man who alexander mackenzie -- about how he had said ski did -- how he had succeeded in crossing the entire of canada and described in so doing in a town in british columbia. he wrote of his achievements which was a stellar achievement. jefferson was perplexed that a scotsman across canada. he said, this is entirely wrong. he turned to his secretary and said, this cannot be allowed to stand. you must cross our country and forget the achievements of this near canadian. of course, no one ever remembers alexander mckenzie, but everyone remembers lewis n. clark. well, to get to the starting
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point, the real starting point of the expedition, and they had to hack their way, somehow drive their way through about a thousand miles of virgin, old eastern force. so wood dominated their journey. they build wooden palisades around their forts where they stopped and had fires, wouldn't fires and so and so forth. so it seemed want to tell the story of early american exploration under the general, loosely, under the general heading of wood. let's continue. earth. remember, i said i used to be a geologist, not a very good one. this seemed that what was next to happen in the american story involves geology because once you come to understand the extent of america, you knew now
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thanks to lewis and clark, union with the rocky mountains were. you know where the sierra were. you knew where the oceans and the great rivers so on and so forth. what you need to know was what was america made a. notches when it was. and so you set out the surveyors and a geologist. the first one, sort of embarrassing to me, is i have read the book and i think 2001 called "the map that changed the world" about william smith and his construction of the first ever geological map ever made. the map of britain, england and wales and scotland, published in london in 1815. i thought that was the first but, in fact, it turns out the first was greater in america by and then named william mcclure, a scotsman and did a beautiful, totally inaccurate, but nevertheless beautiful map of the geology of the appellations in 1809. my publisher back in london, tongue-in-cheek essay, perhaps
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we ought to amend the title. my book should be the second man who changed the world. so you have mcclure doing a survey. you denigrate geologist working in the west coast to discover things, which lure people in the east to come out, pioneers, the wagons and other wagons to find the gold, to find the farmland, find the coal or diamonds or whatever the geologist found. then you have the four great surveys, president lincoln you think he would have his mind on other things of course, in the 1860s which really finally told america what america was made of. so first seem to work quite well. water. well, once again the early american settlers east coast larger got into the interior of the country by going up the river's. that james, the potomac and the
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hudson. after about 40 or 50 our 80 miles inland, they all of them found rapids and they therefore settled there. in towns, places like richmond and fredericksburg and washington, d.c., and albany. and once they had established their settlements and wanted to circumvent trade routes, they built the early canals. so that perfected the basis of building canals and they started building more obviously commercial canals, not simply a round rapids. little canals in new hampshire which effectively created in boston as a city of commerce, a port for all of doing the. the most important of all american canals, theory can help from buffalo to albany which made in new york the central commerce that it is today. and then the canals held in
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chicago to the mississippi river, illinois and michigan canal and then the chicago sanitary canal which is hugely important in allowing great lakes commerce to the old way down to new orleans. then the control and taming of the untamable mississippi river. so that part of the story is neatly into the chapter of water. remember, boats going on these canals of necessity moved slowly. it was about the time the canals had been completed, it became apparent early americans that employing steam, they could create devices that would get across america rapidly. so you have the railway train and the building of the transcontinental railroad, you have the motor corp. and ultimate the interstate highway system which i going to in some detail, and then the intent of
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the airplane and transcontinental air journeys. all of these devices which were powered in their hearts by fire. so that worked quite neatly. and, finally, the fifth which is metal. it is all seeming to work in this sort of chronological sense, because wood predated earth, predated water, which predated fire which all predated the metal. the telephone, then the ditch addition of electricity and then radio and television, cable television and the internet. it all seems to work moderately well. i put the idea to the publishers and they thought this would work. this idea we were will accept comes off the go and write such a book. so that work. that level, and the question out early on in the publication of this book is whether the critics will see it that way. mercifully, the two major reviews that have come out of
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the book in the last few days have been entirely positive. whether they will continue to be or not, i don't know. but to put it in its crudest, one worries when one has t a, bt the slightly eccentric idea, as crude as i think a of i hope i'e gotten away with it. i don't want you think this is a cynical approach to writing. to look at america through the optic chinese high school elements, is something that some people might find offensive or eccentric but we'll see. thus far the reviews are fairly good. what i thought i would do and i mentioned this at the beginning, take a couple of plums from a couple of these categories that are mentioned, things that i didn't know about whenever the book and i would be very interested to know what you know. i knew the select one place and
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one person and a couple of other to inspect the first place which i didn't know anything about but there is no shame if any of you did know about it, i would like to ask -- you won't be identified on television, is who knows about a town called east liverpool ohio? i would love it if no one knows. this is prepared and yet i would argue that it is one of the most important towns in america. certainly the story of the making of america. you probably all got something in your house that was made in east liverpool, because until very recently it was the crockery capital of the country. and so all your forks -- nadra forks but all your saucers and cups and teapots are things i probably were made in east liverpool. now the 400 or so have been be reduced to about two.
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it is a broken downtown on the right thing, the west bank of the ohio river. up north where ohio and pennsylvania in that tiny little sliver of west virginia all need. it's important to know of this reason except when you drive from east liverpool eastward towards the bridge over the ohio, you'd notice it goes past nrb, something beside the road. that obelisk is hugely important because of thomas jefferson and an act that the past before he became president in 1785. a hugely important act in the making of america, and that was the land ordinance of 1785. up to that point in the eastern united states is the model of land ownership, the model enjoyed or suffered in the british isles. which is land belong to the king
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or the aristocracy or the church. and ordinary people have no right or business to be owning land. jefferson thought this was entirely wrong. for this country to prosper, everyone should have the right to buy and to own land. because it would after all given a tangible good bigotry, give them something to grow crops on. they could build on, develop on or they could find him to all sorts of things with his land. and moreover, the government could levy taxes on it, and thereby allow itself to administer the country. there were many debts to pay because of the revolution were practicing an idea which everyone was a winner. it passed in congress. and the consequence of it, americans will be able to allow, ma to be able to buy land, find out where the land is. surveyors, arrange it in
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townships and in sections. when you fly over the western united states today, fly over nebraska or kansas or arizona, you look at these lines running north-south and count them, see how fast the airplane is going to you know they are a model of corporate you know they're all pointed north and south and you know others are east and west. the country is divided into huge squares, 40 acres and a mule and all the other things, the measures that are passed into law. but those lines have to begin somewhere. this man thomas hutchins was appointed the first ever geographer of the united states coming he decreed that the point of beginning for this would be built in east liverpool wer. so we put up an off list. the obelisk that you see today
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than. it is the point of the beginning, right up to the north pole, meridian east and west, a baseline east and west all the way up to the pacific ocean to the point of the beginning is a tremendous important symbol of the development of modern america. and yet, the obelisk is covered with graffiti. there is literal all over the place but no place to park but in my view if the book is anything i hope it might encourage some people in the state of file to build a visitors center, a transportation center and bring every school child in the region there to see how america was originally surveyed and laid out, thanks to the wisdom of thomas jefferson. so that's one thing i wanted to mention. another figure who i think is forgotten did heroic work, and yet his personal life is quite extraordinary, is a fellow called clarence king.
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basically, a slightly dome and. he surveyed most of nebraska, the northern plains. then it was hayden who discovered yellowstone. there was john was like i'll are you on the had his arm chopped off at the battle of shiloh and yet despite the disability managed to get all the way down to the grand canyon. the two of them incidentally i would think, hayden and powell, we be spinning in their graves if they had seen what was going on in washington a while ago for trey grayson, the argument in congress and national parks. they essentially had to be shut down. but then there is the fourth man, clarence king. a fascinating character. highly educated, amusing, from
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newport, rhode island, fantastic american from a very good lost family. he went to yale, got his ph.d at harvard. at the age of 27, was given charge of the survey of all the land between sacramento and cheyenne, what's known as the 40th parallel survey. it took him seven years. the books and the maps would cost hundreds of thousand dollars to date. beautifully beautifully accomplished. and yet all sorts of amazing adventures while doing the survey. but a reward for doing it so well he was appointed be the first ever -- newly body for the united states geological survey which, of course, today and which maps in its entirety. he moved to new york to the headquarters of the usgs and he was the first. the second was john was about
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the his personal life is what i wanted to mention briefly because i was astonished when i stumbled across a. i hope no one will find this offensive but he was a sexually very energetic young man, but he did not like white women. he loved native american women and he loved black women. so one day in new york when he was well on in years, something like 60 but still clearly -- he saw coming towards him a black woman who he, who thought this is the creature of my dreams. what he should've done i think we'll get nowadays is have gone up to her and said, good evening, madam, i'm clarence king, director of net states geological survey, which like a dinner? but for some extra married reason, it wasn't exactly -- he went up to her and said, thinking very quickly on his
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feet, good evening, madam, my name is james todd, and although i may look like add that the fact i am a porter with the pullman company which is you know was a job reserved for black people. will you have dinner with me? well, she agreed. she was from a slave family in georgia. they had dinner, fell in love, married, had five children. for the next 20 years, which turned out to be the last 20 years of his life, he lived to entirely separate lives, never telling either side about the other. to give you an example, he settled down with mrs. todd in queens, in new york, and then every couple of weeks would say, i've got to go off to capture the tone of center limited, or california zephyr, and i'll see you in two weeks. he would leave the house and walk through queens passed the
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newly built brooklyn bridge to lower manhattan where his offices were and say hello, geology, fellow geologist, i've just been on this field trip, i'm going to be a couple of weeks. he would write up his notes and live in a hotel in what is now tribeca, and then after a few weeks he would say goodbye to go to another filter, walk back across the brooklyn bridge, resume his identity as james todd, say hello, darling. at the heads of his children, two of whom not particularly surprise, were white. and resume his life and give her the tips he allegedly had earned on the train. this continued for 20 years, and got into terrible financial trouble to get to borrow money from the secretary of state, a great friend of his but he also went very mad at one paid and he had some quite hard. i think that was the lions cage
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of the central park zoo and had to be put in a silent for a couple of weeks. eventually he fill out with tuberculosis and was sent down to albuquerque to convalesce, but actually to die. and he confessed to his doctor, the only person he ever told. he said, i think you ought to send a message to mrs. todd in queens, the name is actually basic income and her husband is not even a tiny bit black. is entirely white from africa, in newport, rhode island, and i'm frightfully sorry for the confusion that may now attend her. [laughter] and he then died. the doctor very kind i think, but in the way they suffered sensibility plays into the book in a way, he had the certificate of death which i have seen, and he's asked for the race of the
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deceased and he scored out the word black and white and so they wrote in handwriting american. that seemed to me quite charming. i want to say two final things, which relate to this chapter, part of the book, dominated by middle. the first is about electricity. i became fascinated, i'm sure you're aware of what the basic ideas behind the distribution of electricity, edison who went on to -- build a power station in lower manhattan, distributed d.c. power. d. c. has the disadvantage of the for the are from a power station, the dimmer the lights or the lowest power and then tesla invented ac, bob by george westinghouse and then there was the so-called battle of the current, ac or d.c. which was the better. a valiant effort to keep d.c. by
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saint ac was very dangerous. one of the things he did, don't know what it seemed but there's this remarkable video clip which you can see on youtube. he showed that ac is very dangerous and could be used to electrocute people and, indeed, elephants. and he electrocuted and failed the assassination of electrocution of an elephant in coney island. it attacked one of her keepers. they decided they would kill her and use electricity if they could, but they were not entirely certain. they gave her a bunch of carrots laced with cyanide. and then put copper boots, big circular boots on each of her legs and maneuvered her onto a metal plate, and then pulled the lever and you can see the result which is really quite distressing as the legs start to
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smoke and the poor thing crashes over, too and have tons of her, died very quickly and very effectively. but despite a seed, won the day, when westinghouse when a contractor at the chicago there in the 1890s and we've had ac ever since. but not everyone in america had electricity. the cities did. the suburbs did. but the farms did not. there were 800,000 parts in america which had no electricity which in wintertime, particularly when you see the ice being melted, you needed lights and so forth, to do without electricity, the amount of farming that was made to satisfy the needs of the huge population, it was tough for american farmers. and so one of the things that roosevelt did whewas the day who power was to set up the rda, the rural electrification administration. and farms were steadily
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eliminated. and the irony as i was to mention she is the first farm ever eliminated, thanks to the efforts of roosevelt's new deal and big, big government was in western, specifically a town called miami ohio in what is now the eighth congressional to get of ohio. in the eighth congressional district today, constituency of john boehner. so john boehner, the archetype of anti-big government, he benefited hugely from the biggest government of america has ever known. the final things i want to say, this is where i want to bring my telephone and hope it will work. cross my fingers. it relates to radio. you will all know that radio was invented essentially by marconi in 1902, and the image i think we can all remember from school this is the marconi sitting on
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that signal hill in newfoundland, a stormy night with the aerial held on a tight forever feet above his head listening out through the housing jails for the possibility of the letter asked in morse been transmitted by his colleagues 2000 miles away. about 2 a.m. this magical morning when suddenly he heard and felt regard with great clarity the broadcast although it across the atlantic ocean. so radio and transoceanic radio was suddenly a reality. that was fine, but so far as knitting the country together, conversation in morse code was not of the best. there's no sort of great intimacy and having to send messages that way. what you need was to be up to transmit the human voice. that was all down to a forgotten man, with all remember morris
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and marconi but with outdoor member this than, reginald. he was a canadian who worked in america for the national weather bureau. and he came up, the technically adept man with a means of transmitting voice, the initials you know well am and fm. frequency modulation, were essentially his inventions. they allowed, basically, both a microphone like this on to a radio transmitter instead of a more -- transmit anything that this microphone could pick up whether music or someone like me speaking for the sound of the wind or whatever. and this changed everything but i've always thought the way that radio unites families and unites the country is very emblematic of the technology, at least in the 1930s, \40{l1}s{l0}\'40{l1}s{l0} and '50s, the images of the nuclear family gathered around
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the walnut veneer to radio sets, mother and father and the children of the dog and cat and so forth, gathered in front of the radio listening to the comedy program from los angeles or a play being broadcast from new york. and that radio at its best unifying a family and unifying a nation. i think we've conducted in voice. now, what -- turn the device on. what he did was, he wrote out how to do. he built two huge aerials, one in massachusetts rather than they're actually plymouth rock. another one over in scotland and transmitted test message. when he realized he had got it all right, even sent shortly before christmas in 1906, a message by morse code, all the ships in western atlantic belong to the united fruit company and the were bringing bananas up from the places like honduras to
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the east coast ports of boston, new york, baltimore, charleston, havana. saying, ma listen for broadcast at one minute to midnight on christmas eve. christmas eve 1906, it happened to be a dark and stormy night. there was a blizzard of blowing off cape cod. the ships were lumbering through the ocean towards their ports. but all of them, the radio operators went to the radio shacks, switched on their radios. through the static, through the morse said those of other ships talking to one another and so there something quite different that they had never ever heard before. they heard this. ♪ ♪
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♪ >> and thus did the national competition begin, because a few days after that the radio station opened in pasadena, california, just about the musical star which still exist. the real radio station opened that vha in madison, wisconsin. and america started talking to itself. and so that image that i cherish so much of the famine in front of the radio set actually truly began on christmas eve 1906. nothing at all to do with americans, a king of persia huddling under a shade tree. and then came on, said the lord's prayer which all the
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ships at sea a happy christmas. that was the beginning of the thing that i think is perhaps the most unifying feature of modern america. so thank you all very much indeed. [applause] >> i know there's some limitations imposed by television but i would be delighted if there are some questions. >> with this book it been different had you been born in america? do you think you have a different perspective because you're born in another country and were a visitor? >> i went not long ago to eastern arizona. i don't know if you have you have been there, it's a wonderful canyon full of early
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seventh century dwellings. every single person that was there, apart from the guides, was european writing a horse, non-american. it seems to me that the people that are most curious about this country are outsiders. and the americans, the i love, and i am an american now, are so conditioned not generally speaking to be as curious about the country as perhaps they should be. it's such a remarkable country, such an extraordinary experiment. and with things like east liverpool, ohio, both the lack of -- this is going to sound critical but i don't mean to be hostile. and lack of curiosity which i think gives an advantage to people like me from outside because i am curious. i want to know what over the mountain range and down the river. something to would have been a very different book indeed if
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i'd been born and bred and educated in this country. i would be more curious about france or africa or someone else but not sure it's about this country. this country is full of wonders. >> i read two or three of your books and i'm really fascinated with the amount of really interesting information, once you put the ideas together. and then i have to think about the research, and, of course, a little bit of your curiosity. you've written so many books, and do you do all the research your self? are you able to rely on others to help you with the research? >> a terrible thing to say but i wouldn't rely on others. i wouldn't want to. on a sleigh, i love doing the research. for instance, to give an example in this book, i was asked a with the construction and the idea
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behind the interstate highway system and the conventional view is that eisenhower got the idea when seeing the audubon in germany after world war ii, but that's not true. the idea was actually generated when he was appointed as an observer on the transcontinental military convoy that was sent acrostoacross america by such rs that existed in 1919. and this young lieutenant, slowly trying to become -- was appointed as the observer and kept a diary of what turned out to be a complete shambles to this three mile-long convoy setting out from the south from the white house but 58 days to reach lincoln's park in san francisco. and were essentially no roads. original idea was how quickly could we respond if the japanese invaded california? if it took in 58 days, the
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japanese would have taken california, arizona, new mexico and probably not too bad a thing, forget i said that, if they took texas as well. [laughter] that eisenhower kept a diary, which i got. easy to do with the internet now. using that diary i followed in the footsteps. i came in a tent and were they can't come including the place that i wanted, i'd have been to and i was wanted to go to, which is denison iowa which is in western iowa and i wanted to go -- the convoy, they play football match i think with the residents of denison and were beaten by them, but i wanted to go because to me as a superheated schoolboy, seems the birthplace of the woman, the most beautiful woman in the world, she was born in denison, who became school for known as donna reed. i had seen "it's a wonderful
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life" and she is mrs. george bailey, the most beautiful creature ever so i very much want to go to where she was born. i wish i hadn't confessed that. i'll be in terrible trouble after this. >> i want to ask a question about maps. [inaudible] i have to surround myself with maps so i can get a sense of where you are and learn the geography with you. my question is, when you're writing these books do you surround yourself with maps? or are these all in your heads because they are not in my head. i spent an immense amount of money because a lot of the books are about the sea or the coast. i go to new york not a gold and i'm just about to begin a big book on the pacific ocean and the first thing i did was to buy all the major charge of the pacific ocean. i a dork maps. i have a huge map cabinet which i bought many years ago.
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i have a huge number of books. but my pride and joy, i adore them and particularly have to say the maps of the u.s. geological survey. works of art in and of themselves. and the book which probably most of you will not have come if you can find this a gamble, one of the great legacies of the nixon administration was the national atlas of the united states which was published in 1970 i think. very expensive to buy enough but if you can find a secondhand copy cheaply it is a joy. i love atlases. and, indeed, the london times atlas which is in my view the best atlas in the world. i always give it as a wedding present. always for any public gets married, they get a copy of the times atlas which is huge. i always put the same
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inscription, may all your travel to all these places be healthy, happy and serene. i am so pleased with a publisher that last year they wrote this on the back jacket of the book. so now i don't have to write it at all. [laughter] i can just say with love, see the back cover. so thank you for your question because i love maps. >> are you aware of -- [inaudible] >> yes. and the reason i know a little bit about this is because -- are you a library? [inaudible] spent there was this attempt a few years ago to produce what was not as the international map of the world where the entire world would be mapped all at the same scale, all in the same colors, in the same rubric and so force and made in such a way that if you take -- tape altogether they would be
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1 millionth the size of the world which is about the size of a very large house. they started this in 1890 i think and they produce about -- 1800 sheets to cover the whole world. and they made -- things like america map china. they did what countries to map themselves. for italy mapped argentina and britain the mapped the united states i think. and eventually the maps started coming out, but by 1984, the effort, they produce 1600. there were still 200 to go. it was now under the auspices of the united nations and they said let's abandon it. let's not continue. the only complete collection of 1600 maps of the world are in that map collection. so it's a great, great library,
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yes. >> well, if there is nobody else, thank you very much indeed for your time. it's been great, thank you. [applause] >> for more information visit the author's website, simonwinchester.com. >> the teachers are trying to close the gap. they are dealing with such a hard problem and in the book i write a disclaimer saying this is making the assumption that no one is going to fix anything outside the school. no one would've anything about the poverty, about the racism, anything. can you close the gap just -- but all the burden on the teachers and principals. so they are not getting that message. that's not what the -- the
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schools are like, you have to give to give an inner-city african-american kid in june in second grade and white suburban kid in second grade, they can be at the same level in june when they graduate. when they come back in september, the white suburban kid has gained one month of learning from the expenses had an inner-city of connecting kid has lost three months of learning. they are now four months apart in september. and the teachers again have different burdens. so the teachers come it's not that they're getting a bad education but it's not the issues that those teachers are very different than the white suburban teachers are facing. that kid is ahead of what the teachers going to teach them. this kid three months been have to go back into the second greatest of all over again while trying to get a third great stuff. so you can tell it's a very different challenge. what we're talking about is outside the school. i did not find in the research after all those years that the problems actually what you were insinuating there, that they were getting the wrong message

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